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(STATS) -- Despite an encouraging end to last season with the prospect of returning many veteran players this year, the Cornell football staff opened the offseason by posting a blank depth chart in the teams locker room.At Columbia, the coaching staff has been busy changing the approach of its players as much as making adjustments in the two-deep.Neither Ivy League program has enjoyed much recent success, but both began to see light on the horizon last season that perhaps this year they can slip through the door when nobodys looking.Not surprisingly on Tuesday, there was a far drop to last years two cellar-dwellers in the Ivy Leagues preseason poll, which was fronted by the three defending champions -- Harvard picked as the favorite with Penn second and Dartmouth third. Then it was Yale, Princeton and Brown before Columbia was picked seventh and Cornell eighth.Same ol, same ol in the Ancient Eight?Not necessarily.We think we will be much more competitive than weve been, said Columbia second-year coach Al Bagnoli, who previously won eight Ivy titles at Penn. We think were doing all the right things. We have kids who are buying in.Its just a matter of showing them, Cornell fourth-year coach David Archer said, that the difference on a Saturday afternoon isnt as big as they really think.Cornell and Columbia received a much-needed bump in publicity last week with their inclusion in the top 100 of a list ranking all-time college football programs. But when you factor in what-have-you-done-for-me-lately, your fathers Ivy League, even your older brothers, is not your great-grandfathers Ivy League.The two New York state rivals found a lot of their historical success before there even was an Ivy League. Columbias Ivy title in 1961 is the only one in program history, and the Lions havent had a winning season since 1996. Cornell has the second-fewest Ivy titles with three -- most recently in 1990 -- and the Big Red are seeking their first winning record since 2005.But being that its August, there is optimism. Maybe its not unfounded, either.Columbia (2-8, 1-6 Ivy) lost six times by eight points or less in Bagnolis first season in New York. Meanwhile, Cornell (1-9, 1-6) let three potential wins slip away, and after beating Columbia by a rather fitting 3-0 score, the Big Red were competitive in a season-ending loss at Penn.We had to have buy-in, we had to have trust, in addition to us being able to evaluate our kids ability level of what they could and couldnt do, Bagnoli said. You fast-forward a year and I think weve tried to do a good job in addressing all those issues. I think theres been a change in the culture here. I think we have a little bit more confidence and a little bit more exuberance and a little bit more swagger than what we had when we took over the program.Were entering Monday (the opening of preseason camp) with 124 guys on roster, Archer said. Now league rules (say) you can only have 110 to camp, which is what well have. But having the ability to say to the guys in January, Hey, youre going to have to compete just to get a spot in camp, really drove up (competition). And we had our best offseason, best spring practice to date so far.For Columbia, its important for quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg, in his second year after transferring from Florida, to avoid similar injuries of a year ago. Five of last years six leading tacklers, including co-leaders linebacker Keith Brady and safety Christian Conway, return on defense.Up in Ithaca, Cornell brings back 15 starters, although it will have a change at quarterback if sophomore Dalton Banks unseats senior Robert Somborn. The Big Red feature one of the better defenders in the league in safety Nick Gesualdi and perhaps the best punter in the FCS in Chris Fraser.Neither team is ready to challenge for the league title considering more incremental steps are necessary. But the league could take on a different complexion after last years finish marked the first three-way share of the title since 1982. On graduation day, Penn lost 10 starters, Harvard saw 12 depart and Dartmouth lost 17.The trust testament is, who is the next man up? said Penn coach Ray Priore, who succeeded Bagnoli last season. The key to success … is dont forget how you won previous years.You just hope the kids develop and rise to the occasion, are opportunistic when given the opportunity to make their imprint in the program.---=IVY LEAGUE FOOTBALL PRESEASON MEDIA POLL=1. Harvard (7 first-place votes), 126 points2. Penn (9), 1193. Dartmouth, 834. Yale, 815. Princeton, 796. Brown (1), 617. Columbia, 438. 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Can we get a one-way ticket to (minor-league) Hamilton for David Desharnais please. PHOENIX --?Toronto?slugger Jose Bautista is expected to begin a rehab assignment on Wednesday and could rejoin the Blue Jays when they open a three-game interleague series at home against the?San Diego Padres?on Monday.Bautista, out since June 16 with turf toe, will play for Class A Dunedin on Wednesday and compete in three games with Triple-A Buffalo over the weekend.If alls good, youll probably see him Monday, I would guess, manager JJohn Gibbons said before the Blue Jays played the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night.ddddddddddddIn 65 games this season, Bautista, 35, is batting .230 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs.Gibbons said Bautista will be the designated hitter in some games, as well as filling his customary position in right field. 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